At the time of the Anthony Davis trade, some fans of the Los Angeles Lakers were a bit nervous about how Rob Pelinka handled the entirety of the deal, and especially the cap ramifications having to do with the execution date of the trade.
According to Arash Markazi of the L.A. Times, some within the organization thought that entire story was ridiculous from the get-go (emphasis mine):
The Lakers also have Marshall Rader, who is the team’s salary cap and CBA analyst — or “capologist” as some like to call the position. He’s a self-described “salary cap nerd,” who worked in basketball operations in that capacity for the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers. He also worked on the salary cap and player contracts at the National Basketball Players Assn. and Impact Sports Management, which is the agency that represents Kawhi Leonard.
The notion that Pelinka and the Lakers had no idea about the impact of the timing of the deal and only found out after seeing it on Twitter or television never made sense.
“Of all the stories out there,” said one Lakers official. “That’s easily the dumbest.”
In the Lakers’ defense, it was always a pretty far-fetched notion that Pelinka — who has been involved with the NBA for decades as an agent even before becoming an executive, and sold on his cap-savvy — might not have understood such a major detail in cap ramifications. Say what you will about him (and I have), but the criticisms levied against him to this point have not included a disregard for important details that would escalate to this point.
That said, and while I get some of their frustration — especially since the Lakers were eventually able to expand the trade to generate max cap space fairly painlessly — you know what didn’t help the narrative that maybe Pelinka was in over his head? Maybe the fact that they had just bungled the coaching search to such a hilarious extent that Frank Vogel earned himself a promotion before having been hired in the first place.
Perhaps if the Lakers wanted to control this narrative a little more and earn a greater benefit of the doubt from fans, they should have spoken publicly in the months between the end of the season and Vogel’s introductory press conference.
If you don’t like public narrative about you, then go out there and change the conversation. They didn’t, and thus when it appeared Pelinka might be screwing up again, people were a little nervous.
Another factor to keep in mind here is how much the Lakers gave up in the Davis trade, and how that wasn’t enough somehow to get New Orleans to execute the deal when it best served the Lakers. While we’ve gotten reports from L.A.’s side of the story, it’s unlikely we ever find out for sure how all everything went down, but acting like this was always a stupid thing for people to be worried about doesn’t quite sit well with me.
Because fans hadn’t heard anything from anyone within the organization about what the hell had been going on since Magic Johnson’s abrupt resignation, they were left to their own devices in generating a narrative that fit all we knew was going on at the time.
It’s great to hear Marshall Raider’s name now publicly. Maybe that’s something the Lakers could’ve made sure people knew about before the narrative spun out of control.
All that is mostly behind us at this point anyway, and the Lakers’ focus right now is landing Kawhi Leonard. Should that happen, all the previous noise — even from the loudest detractors — falls by the wayside, as the Lakers would enter next season as title favorites.
If the Lakers want to eliminate noise, that’s how you do it, though managing the narrative couldn’t hurt, either.